Emily Dorr ’23, a music education major, has been committed to building community among others at Lawrence who are aspiring to teach music.

As president of Lawrence’s chapter of the National Association for Music Education (NAfME), the senior from St. Paul, Minnesota, will be leading an annual symposium April 7–8, one featuring an international guest.

NAfME is an organization providing support, community, and administrative input for music education majors. With five members on the board, NAfME’s branch at Lawrence holds weekly meetings and one symposium per year.

“We all want to foster this community… It’s important to me that everyone on the board has a voice,” Dorr said.

Inclusive practices and collaborative creativity are woven into our comprehensive music education courses.

Reflecting the value of voices, Dorr said multiple board members wanted queer theory and music education to be the topic of this year’s symposium. Anybody, regardless of major, is welcome at the symposium, to be held in Room 163 of the Music-Drama Center throughout the day on April 8. A performance by LGBTuben will be held at 8:30 p.m. April 7 in Memorial Chapel. See details here.

“The word ‘symposium’ is fancy, but also a little scary,” Dorr said. “I want everyone to feel welcome and invited because I feel that’s something at the core of queer theory and what we’ll be discussing.”

The keynote speaker is Elizabeth Gould, a retired associate professor from the University of Toronto. Her work frequently connects LGBTQ+ and music themes.

“We started looking into her works and were like, ‘OK, she’s a leader in this field and we really want her here,’” Dorr said.

With NAfME’s last few symposia unable to host guests due to COVID, Dorr said Gould’s attendance is special.

“We’re very excited to have her on campus, especially as an international guest as well,” Dorr said.

Other symposium participants include Julie McQuinn, associate professor of music, who first recommended Gould to the group; Ann Ellsworth, a horns professor, and her ensemble, LGBTuben; alumnus Benjamin Hiles ‘22, who has researched queer theory in the music room and will be presenting on his findings; and Jessica Pruett, visiting assistant professor of gender studies, who will discuss queer theory and its influence on her teaching.

“I feel having this run successfully is my greatest task and, hopefully, accomplishment as president of the board,” Dorr said.

A musical journey

Music and education have long been central to Dorr. It was while playing clarinet for the Minnesota All-State Band and Orchestra that she first was drawn to Lawrence. Andrew Mast, Lawrence’s wind ensemble conductor, associate dean of the Conservatory, Kimberly-Clark Professor of Music, and director of bands, made a fateful visit to guest conduct.

“I was like, ‘Oh my god, this guy is awesome. I love how he’s leading rehearsals,’ and he would talk about Lawrence,” Dorr said.

Settling on a music education major and French minor at Lawrence, Dorr joined NAfME during the 2019–20 school year. NAfME is one of the longest-standing student associations at Lawrence.

“I really liked it,” Dorr said. “I thought it was a great community, so I applied to join.”

Dorr said ideas central to NAfME are lifelong learning and providing fun and engaging learning outside the curriculum.

“As a teacher, you’re always learning,” she said. “You’re learning from your students, we learn from each other, and I learn from the people on the board every day.”

Dorr became president this year. Her responsibilities include leading meetings, delegating tasks, and reaching out to potential symposium guests.

Dorr said her favorite part of the job is the ability to work with other students and communities around Lawrence. She also sees this symposium as an example of student leadership in action.

With Dorr graduating soon, NAfME will be holding board elections for next year. Dorr said students interested in NAfME can check out @nafme.lu on Instagram or email Dorr directly to join the email list.

Dorr’s plan is to teach general elementary music, but she said her absolute dream is to teach music in a French-speaking nation.

“We’re just really excited about the symposium,” Dorr said. “We’re hoping to engage people on campus and we’re open to anyone who’s interested and wants to come, so it’s going to be a great time.”